The Metaverse: Understanding It and Its Potential for Customer Experience
The metaverse is a concept that has been getting a lot of attention recently. Some believe it’s a passing trend. Some believe it’s a passing trend. Others say it’s the future for social networks. Some experts believe the metaverse is the birth of a new world that’s more virtual than real. This universe 2.0 isn’t just for Gen-Z gamers. Customers, employees, and companies can all find their place within the B2B/B2C metaverse…even sooner than you might imagine.
How can we define the metaverse of today beyond theories? What are the challenges and opportunities it presents for brands, especially when it comes to customer service?
What is the metaverse?
According to a Wunderman Thompson study, 38% of consumers know little about the metaverse. Let’s start with the theory before we get to the practical.
The metaverse is the internet of tomorrow. To refer to a universe that is beyond the physical world, the term metaverse comes from the Greek words “meta” and “universe.”
This new reality, more concretely speaking, integrates interconnected and shared online spaces. Metaverse users can work, play and interact with others, as well as to conduct transactions. It’s a 3D parallel virtual world.
If the idea of the metaverse seems like something you would never dream of or a utopian project, then think again. It is a fact, most notably popularized in 2021 by Facebook which announced its transition to the metaverse at the end (with a new company name, Meta strong>).
The company that was previously Facebook is now known as “the metaverse” and it is the next evolution in social interaction. Many platforms offer immersive customer or employee experiences through virtual reality (VR), or augmented reality(AR).
Let’s not jump into the future without looking back at the past. It may be surprising to you that the metaverse isn’t a new concept.
The metaverse’s history: Origins of the concept
Neal Stephenson, an American sci-fi author, was the first person to use the term “metaverse” in 1992. He describes a virtual world that is inhabited by avatars of human beings. The year 1992 marks the birth of the metaverse. Even though terms such as “virtual reality”, and other terms were in use before 1992, Antonin Artaud, a French author, introduced the term in 1983 in one of his plays strong>.
Since then, the ideas of the metaverse, as well as virtual reality, have been the inspiration for many films like The Matrix (1999), Summer Wars (2010), and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the book by the same title, Ready Player One (2018)
The video game Second Life was a key factor in the metaverse’s transformation from fantasy to reality in the 2000s. Millions of people were attracted to this platform, which allowed them to meet other users, evolve in their virtual world, and even attend concerts by “real” musicians like U2. They could also work from home. Second Life was more than just a game. It had its currency that could be converted to dollars.
Second Life was largely forgotten after the advent of Facebook. However, the platforms have grown exponentially since 2007, making the metaverse a reality.
What is the metaverse’s platform?
New video games attempted to catch the metaverse wave after Second Life’s success. Popular games like Animal Crossing and Minecraft are examples of this. Fortnite is the video game that has propelled the metaverse to millions of homes over the past year.
Fortnite is a hot topic, from playgrounds to specialized media. Fortnite, a “battle royale” video game where the goal is to be the last survivor, has enjoyed huge success. Epic Games studio, the developer of Fortnite, announced in 2021 that it would close its final round of fundraising to raise a billion dollars for its mission of conquering the metaverse.
These virtual worlds can be used for marketing campaigns, as well as gaming. Travis Scott, a rapper, performed a concert on Fortnite in 2020 to a crowd of 27 million players. The goal is clear. Tomorrow, Fortnite will go beyond its role as a game to become a “second life” with players able to attend events and meet new people.
These immersive experiences can be made directly by users of platforms such as Roblox. You can create your virtual worlds or games with this tool. Nike is not the only brand to have embraced this trend. The brand recreated its iconic model in a virtual environment, giving users access to online sports arenas that allow them to play games. Nike clothing and shoes can be customized by users to personalize avatars. You can also purchase certain articles directly through the platform.
The Covid-19 crisis and subsequent digital transformations facilitated and sometimes forced a virtual adoption. This led to a spectacular metaverse and virtual reality boom. The future of customer experience is emerging across the metaverse. This will bring new life to brand-consumer relationships.
Opportunities for customer experience in the metaverse
According to a report called “Retail Perceptions”, 71% of consumers said they would buy more from brands that offer augmented reality (AR) based on a survey. This stat shows consumer interest in creating innovative customer experiences.
These new concepts, such as the metaverse, could be used by brands to transform the customer experience. These are the main benefits of the metaverse in customer experience.
1. The metaverse personalizes customer experiences
The metaverse’s priority since its inception has been the personalization of experiences. This includes the user experience, gaming experience, and so on. The customer experience is also important. You can personalize your avatar and have unique experiences.
Brands can also create custom-made ads in the metaverse. These ads can be based on the interests, age, and gender of users via social media. This personalization helps consumers create memorable experiences and increases customer loyalty. This data collection offers brands the opportunity to increase customer knowledge and adopt a customer-centric approach.
2. The metaverse is a game that gamifies customer journeys
The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize e-commerce. This solution accelerates “immersive Shopping” at a time when brick and mortar shops are falling. With avatars as characters and universes inspired by video games…gamification has an impact on the evolution of the customer journey. So, after e-commerce and m-commerce (mobile commerce), will the new trend be “metaverse-commerce”?
According to a Harris survey, 48% of Millennials believe that the metaverse will become a part of their lives within the next ten years. 38% of Gen Z and 38% are convinced. 51% of Millennials believe that the metaverse has unique assets, while 37% of Gen Z agree. These digital natives have clear expectations: The metaverse is the future. It can be used for customer journeys and “second life” experiences.
3. The metaverse can be used to differentiate
This innovative concept is a great opportunity to differentiate your brand. These platforms have a unique opportunity to differentiate brands from other B2B and B2C brands.
Brands that are innovative through omnichannel engagement strategies have an 89% higher rate of customer loyalty. The metaverse allows brands to be different from their competitors and is also a tool for customer loyalty.
4. The metaverse transforms customer service (maintaining a H to H or human-to-human approach)
Imagine your company creating a brand experience in the metaverse tomorrow. The user can explore a new world, purchase items, and communicate with the brand as well as other users. If a customer needs to contact customer service with a question, it would be counterproductive for them to leave the immersive experience and pick up a phone. The metaverse will be an innovative tool in customer relations.
Customer service, for example, can visualize holograms of agents in virtual reality. Some brands can create demonstrations in virtual and augmented reality for customers who are equipped with special headsets.
These opportunities open the door to many new experiences that will help customers service better. All while keeping an augmented human approach.
A market full of potential
The metaverse already gives brands reason to invent. The increased amount of information and user data that augmented reality will provide means that brand messages can be more powerful. This is because the volume of information and user data could increase by 70%. Performance would also be affected. These virtual universes can help brands generate $50 million more revenue before 2030, according to Morgan Stanley.
Certain markets, such as luxury, have begun to invest in NFTs and social games through immersive universes. These opportunities will allow the luxury market to grow by more than 10% in the next eight years, and increase its profit by approximately 25 strong>
This opportunity has been seized by Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and Vans. Roblox has partnered with several companies to create new and unique virtual experiences. This 2.0 reality isn’t just for luxury customers, but also for B2C.
The future of the augmented employee experience: The metaverse for the company?
The metaverse can reimagine the entire employee experience chain. The boom in remote work and digital transformation means that tomorrow’s workplaces will be virtual…and employee relationships can be even more immersive!
The metaverse, for example, could help accelerate the creation of immersive online workspaces. Remote team collaboration is possible. The concept of “augmented reality”, which is based on the creation of human holograms, could be replaced with that of “overlap reality”. This virtual representation of employees could be projected into the real world to simplify communications and product demonstrations, or training.
The metaverse could be used to facilitate team building, recruitment, and virtual events. The metaverse, according to Mark Zuckerberg, is “an embodied Internet, where you’re not watching content but are actually in it.” This new universe, where people are both the players and spectators, has no limits.